Sunday, 28 June 2015

Lesnes Abbey Abbey Abbey Woods junior parkrun 11

On Sunday 28 June 2015, we went to the playground at Lesnes Abbey Abbey Abbey Woods. It's a pretty decent playground with lots of different apparatus for different age ranges plus areas for parkour, basketball and football.

arson [photo: 7t]

There's also a nice open space with stones and picnic tables. You could quite happily set up camp here and hang out for a few hours on a summer's afternoon. Also brilliant for hanging out post-parkrun.

However, a few weeks back one of the apparatus was effectively destroyed in an act of arson. It is fenced off and has signs appealing for any information related to the crime. I hope they catch those responsible and I hope it can be replaced.

ankle circles [photo: 7t]

Earlier that morning, Matilda had taken part in Lesnes Abbey Abbey Abbey Woods junior parkrun for the fourth time. It was another one of those non-speedy walk/runs and although she had an enthusiastic start, the act of running three laps again proved to be mentally tough for her.

ready to go [photo: 7t]

Fortunately the tail runner, Jane, was on hand to provide some much needed encouragement when we had exhausted our usual selection of games which this week included 'jumping over things', 'let's chase Dadda' and 'bumping into stuff'.

the final stretch [photo: brian (official photographer)]

Over the last 100 metres, Matilda suddenly sprung into life and raced me to the finish line. We had a little joke about me entering the finish funnel, but I was left in no doubt that I must under no circumstances follow through on my idea to enter it. 'Dadda, only children can go through the finish line!'

[results page]

Dartford parkrun 47 - one hundred and eighty two

Up until 8.45am, I didn't actually have a role at this event. I was of course in Central Park at 7am to set the course up with Adam and Richey, but after that things were a little sketchy. It was at the moment that two of our volunteers turned up that I found my calling for the day.

The day's tail-runner came to the registration desk and notified us that she wasn't able to run, so I stepped in to take over. This worked out perfectly as it gave us an extra marshal.

bringing up the rear [photo: dani]

The extra marshal came in very useful on the bridge, as one of the wooden planks on the bridge has somehow bowed and is causing a little trip hazard. The council have been informed and are looking into it, but in the meantime we were able to place some warning cones over the affected area and give our extra marshal the sole role of warning runners about the hazard.

So once Adam had finished his run briefing, I got to experience life at the other end of the field. It's sometimes easy to forget that for some people, 5k is a bloody long way to run and takes a huge effort to complete the course.

multi-tasking [photo: dani]

It wasn't my first time as a tail-runner. I have done this many times before as a run leader at So Let's Go Running and I also took on the role over at Harrow Lodge junior parkrun [blog here]. It was, however, my first time as an official tail runner at a 5k parkrun event.

For any budding tail-runners, it is important to note that you may not actually be running the whole time. With parkrun being an inclusive event, we welcome all abilities. I found that there were a few occasions where I was stood completely still while the last runner took a breather, which I was of course more than happy to do - our little incline must feel like a mountain to someone that has never run before.

runner one hundred and eighty two [photo: dani]

Being tail-runner meant that I was in a good position to make the signage retrieval process a little easier, so I dropped back off of the last runner and grabbed all of the signs and cones as I passed them around the course before dropping them at the last corner with another of our core volunteers, Harley.

I saw the last runner safely over the finish line and in the process became the first person at Dartford parkrun to finish in both first and last positions (I think - correct me if I'm wrong). I was handed finishing token number 182, which was our second highest number of finishers with only the inaugural event attracting more participants to date [results page].

Friday, 26 June 2015

Lesnes Abbey Woods junior parkrun 10 - Father's Day

I was pleased when Matilda decided to run at junior parkrun this week because it fell on father's day, and I really couldn't think of a better way to spend it than by running around a beautiful park with my daughter (breakfast in bed would've come a close second). So after receiving a lovely card and story book, we hit the road.

We headed over to Lesnes Abbey Woods junior parkrun (LAW) for a few reasons. Firstly, it has a 9am start and which means we were finished and able to carry on with the day earlier than some other venues and secondly because Richey (Dartford parkrun ED) was run directing and I thought it'd be cool to join him.

richey's warmup session [photo: dani]

As it was father's day, we decided to dispense with the parent relay method of running and go for a straight father-daughter combo with mum on photographer duty. I find one of the downsides for the younger (or slower) runners at LAW is that the course is three laps. Matilda tends to cope better with out-and-back, single lap or two lap courses. After Richey's warm-up session and briefing, the run was started.

Lap 1:

The first lap is the easiest - she is very eager and heads off into the distance with the other children. I pootle along at the back of the pack with the tail runner, Jane, for a while but soon continue onwards and catch up with Matilda about three-quarters of the way around the lap. She's happy to see me and we continue to run until completing the lap.

being cheered on by ola [photo: dani]

Lap 2:

It starts well, but I can sense that she will be in need of a short walking break at some point during the lap. It's time to start the games. The first is the one where I go in front of her and pretend that I am the fastest runner and that nobody can overtake me, when Matilda overtakes I react in shock and try to catch up, but I can't.

We eventually take that walking break at the half-way point. The break is broken when another young girl comes past and Matilda runs with her for a few hundred metres. The second half of the lap is tough as the lead runners start to lap us, but we continue the game.

lots of grassy things to jump over [photo: dani]

Lap 3:

We pass the start-finish area and commence the final lap. It's mentally tough for Matilda to go past the other children that have already finished. However, she pushes on and we continue playing our games.

We've now moved onto jumping over things. We find a rock, a stone, a drain cover - all great for jumping over. Then there's a cone - we jump over this.

the downhill tarmac path [photo: dani]

Further along we switch games to 'let's hi-five the marshals' - we get one, then we get another - it's Ola the event director who is marshalling. He encourages us one last time as we now jump over the tufts of long grass in the second half of this final lap.

As we approach the final straight I am ordered by Matilda to peel off and meet her on the other side of the finish line (no adults allowed in the finish funnel!). She passes through and is given her finish token. The results are published later that day.

just about to peel off at the end [photo: dani]

It's not her fastest time over the course, but then Matilda doesn't run her best times when I am with her because we spend too much time faffing around playing. She runs her best times when she's alone or with her mum.

In fact, and I may have mentioned this in other posts, she doesn't really care about her finish times, and I'd like to keep it like that for as long as possible so she can just enjoy the purity of running around the park for no other reason than she wants to.

post-run education at the ruins of lesnes abbey [photo: dani]


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Dartford parkrun 46 - no pressure

I was back on the stopwatch for Dartford parkrun 46. A role I've now done twice and I must say that I really love it. All it takes is the ability to press two buttons - one to start the timer and one to register a time for each runner as they cross the finish line at the end of their run. However, it does require the ability to stay focussed on the incoming runners and also to not get too caught up in any of the post-run conversations.

that must be my concentrating face [photo: ann langdon]

It is described as one of the high pressure roles and this became apparent when my co-timer's stopwatch didn't properly register one of the runners. That meant that I had the solitary 100% stopwatch record in my hands and couldn't afford any slip-ups! In the end it worked out absolutely fine and everyone was accounted for.

timekeeping, balancing and listening [photo: ann langdon]

One of the most memorable moments was when eight runners all hurtled into the finish funnel within the space of four seconds - I managed to click fast enough to register three of them with exactly the same time. I imagine that this kind of situation lasts for minutes over at some of the busier venues (maybe I'll step up my game and volunteer as timekeeper at one of them one day).

You may notice the lack of a hi-vis vest in the photo. There's a simple explanation - We had so many volunteers that we ran out (and I'm not sure where my personalised one is at the moment). Which I guess is quite a nice position to be in and I'm certainly not complaining.

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